Tide To Tip

Oyster Industry led Estuary Clean-Ups

Tide To Tip

Oyster Industry led Estuary Clean-Ups

Community Participation -


The issue

Oysters are often called the canary in the coal-mine for estuary health, however it is oyster farmers who are truly the eyes and ears of the waterway. Out on their punts every day, these watermen have an intimate knowledge of their local environment and are often the first to report water pollution events and upstream disturbances. With the health of the environment intimately linked with their future income, they also have a vested interest to maintain and improve estuary condition. With ongoing floods, a lot of debris can end up washed up in the mangroves, or oyster gear sometimes washes out to sea. This can lead to tensions with the local community and complaints.

The solution

For many years oyster farmers have supported community groups to undertake waterway clean-ups, volunteering their equipment and knowledge for the public good. Recognising the capacity of the oyster industry to undertake estuary clean-ups, in 2019 OceanWatch put forward a proposal to mobilise as many farmers as possible to undertake clean-ups in the same fortnight. The response was overwhelming with 240 oyster farmers across 4 states committing to participate in its inaugural year. Now in its third consecutive year, Tide to Tip sees oyster farmers from across NSW and interstate work together with local community groups and local councils to clean up their estuary and foreshore, removing tonnes of marine litter from estuaries and mangroves. This also helps build community trust in the oyster industry.

The impact

The estuary clean-ups in February 2022 saw clean-ups in 18 estuaries with 170 volunteers engaged in over 500 volunteer hours and collectively remove 8.1 tonnes of waste from the estuaries. Working in partnership with Clean-Up Australia Day, OceanWatch assists with the organisation of waste collection & disposal, provide rubbish bags, gloves, assists with insurance etc. while local growers are empowered to be local coordinators for their estuary. This year we have seen some new partnerships with Plastic Collective and the MiiMi Aboriginal Corporation who have set up a new recycling hub on the north coast and can recycle blue aquaculture drums. The estuary clean-ups have featured in numerous newspaper articles and radio interviews.

Key facts

  • 18 estuary clean-ups led by the oyster industry involving 170 volunteers
  • Removal of 8.1 tonnes of rubbish from NSW and interstate waterways
  • Estuary clean-ups provide an opportunity to build community trust in the oyster industry and establish new partnerships

Project Partners